The head of the Colombian rebel group, National Liberation Army (ELN), says a ceasefire between the government and the group must be 100% adhered to in order to gain the trust of the Colombian people. The ELN killed nine Colombian soldiers near the border with Venezuela in March, disrupting negotiations with leftist President Gustavo Petro. ELN chief negotiator, Pablo Beltran, says any ceasefire must be “achievable and measurable” to win over the public and is interested in making it work so that there are no errors. Beltran also blames the March attack on an “offensive campaign” by Colombia’s military.
Beltran says the group remains interested in reaching a ceasefire agreement during the Havana talks, despite the fact that there is currently no ceasefire and operations on both sides continue. Previous negotiations with the ELN under past administrations failed after dissent flared from within its ranks, but Beltran says any agreement this time will be respected by all of the group’s fronts. The ELN has been accused of financing itself through drug trafficking, illegal mining, and kidnapping.